Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you.” The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.
To the canyon that came so close
to touching me, I was nothing.
What good was a truck gearing down
to go up to the snow?
Still, the walls of rock held themselves
at arm’s length to make room.
A narrow hall. That wallpaper,
lichens splattered on basalt …
a bedroom carved out around me.
Snow, where had you gone,
taking the road with you?
Where was the door?
The creek had something to say
on this, but not to me.
To the rocks the meltwater tumbled,
to the willows that reddened
at each wet word,
the radio crackled and spat.
And still Willie Nelson sang
in a whiny fuzz.
The pines strained under the weight
of all the dumb sad songs made one.
Love gone to seed,
love buried under snow—
where was a snowbird to feed?
A flock of juncos flung itself
like a lost scarf over the last weeds.
Mist coming down the mountain
to meet someone halfway—
I took off a glove. I lay down
and played angel. The snow held on,
a body of water that wouldn’t melt.
Snow, let go. It’s late,
You are cornmush. You are cold.
Let me cover you with this white sheet.
No one will know.
—Debora Greger, “To the Snow”
Image via Danniel Schoonebeek
“I don’t want to believe this story. It seems designed to make me pity her. Yet there’s an embarrassment in her face that suddenly makes her look very young, like a child who has admitted to a misdeed. ‘Are you going to try again?’ I ask.
“‘Maybe sometime,’ she says. ‘Maybe after my career.’
“‘That might be a long time,’ I say.
“‘Probably not,’ she says, her eyes set on something in the distance. ‘I’ll have a few good years, and I’d better make enough money to retire on. I don’t know what other job I could do.’
“I consider this. ‘So what will you do with yourself afterward?’
“‘I don’t know. Go to Morocco with my father. Have kids. Whatever people do.’”
—Julie Orringer, from “When She is Old and I am Famous”
Art Credit Martin Munkácsi